For America Ferrera, the love and ownership of the Angel City goes beyond the field

America Ferrera has decided to face her fears.

“I had raging fomo, which I’m not prone to,” said the Emmy-winning actress, using an acronym for fear of missing out. “He killed me.”

The first step to overcoming fear is to identify it, and that’s what Ferrera has done. What he missed, he said, was Angel City’s debut season in the NWSL, which wouldn’t have been so bad except for the founding team’s ownership.

And an owner sitting out 10 of his team’s first 11 home games is like a parent missing their son’s first steps or skipping their daughter’s first dance recital. These are the moments you can’t get back.

“It’s a very, very sad and painful issue,” he said. “I was working in London and had to watch all the fun from afar.”

He promises to be there on Sunday when Angel City kicks off its second season against Gotham FC at BMO Stadium. But football is only part of the draw. What got Ferrera to sign with the team before it was a player, a coach or a stadium was that it had a purpose, to make an impact in the community more than just winning games.

“That’s exactly why I’m running,” said Ferrera, a longtime advocate for political and social justice. “I had zero intention of being a creative investor in a sports team. Of all the things on my resume, that was one thing I felt was not (necessary). To me, it’s the heart and the mission and the intent and the drive behind the purpose of Angel City, which has been unashamedly creating more access and opportunity and quality for female athletes.”

Born to Honduran parents in Los Angeles, Ferrera, 38, graduated from El Camino High in Woodland Hills and attended USC on a presidential scholarship, majoring in theater and international relations. His ties to Southern California make his participation in the club even more significant.

“From providing meals to LAUSD kids and their families to donating sports bras to young women so they have the equipment they need to play sports, it’s truly profound and gratifying for me to be a founding investor in this organization.” he said

The club has pledged to donate 10% of its sponsorship proceeds to programs dedicated to fundamentals such as equity, education and food safety, redirecting more than $4.5 million to the community to date. Not coincidentally, this has helped attract a number of Hollywood A-listers and activists such as Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria to the group’s 100-plus investment team.

“It’s always been there. But now, naturally, more and more leaders in their community are stepping up and putting money into it,” Andrew Dolich, a former team executive in several leagues who now runs a sports consultancy in Los Altos, California, said of the clubs. about the growing desire of owners to use their sports to give back. “You know, it’s nice to say something. But it’s much more important to go ‘the entity that we have here.’ And those groups, in local philanthropy, in education, also become leaders.”

Angel City fans certainly support the mission. In its first season, the team participated in the NWSL, averaging 19,105 fans per game and selling out four times. But injuries that limited standout defender Sarah Gorden and World Cup champions Christen Press and Sydney Leroux to 10 starts hampered the team, which finished in the bottom half of the 12-team standings, missing the playoffs by five points.

Angel City defender Sarah Gorden

(Harry Nola/Getty Images)

Gorden has recovered from his ACL injury and is expected to start Sunday, while there is no timetable for the return of Leroux (ankle) or Press (ACL). Their absence guarantees playing time for teenage sensation Alyssa Thompson, a senior at Harvard Westlake School with sprinter speed and scoring prowess.

Keeping everyone healthy this season will be key to the team’s success. A lack of depth wore down Angel City last year, with the team conceding two more goals in the second half and losing four of its last five in eighth place. Thompson is the biggest acquisition of the offseason, although coach Freya Coombe said Gorden’s return will be like adding another player.

Meanwhile, fan-favorite Jun Endo, a skilled midfield of Dani Weatherholt and Savannah McCaskill, last season’s leading scorer with seven goals, returns in full force; the defense will be anchored by Gorden, captain Ali Riley and center back Megan Reid, who didn’t miss a minute last season.

DiDi Haracic, who was third in the league in saves in his first season as a starter, is back in goal.

“There has been turnover and some changes. But the good thing going into a second season is just having the foundation and the core,” Coombe continued. “We can build on our core principles.

“Last year we had to establish (principles) and this year they are already established and now it is to build and improve them”.

Five Angel City players to watch this season

Alyssa Thompson, left, stands with Angel City President Julie Uhrman in an Angel City jersey.

Alyssa Thompson, left, stands with Angel City president Julie Uhrman, who was selected No. 1 in the NWSL draft by Angel City in January. after choosing

(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Alyssa Thompson: Angel City paid a heavy price, surrendering two top draft picks and $450,000 to move up in January’s NWSL draft and select Thompson, an 18-year-old senior from Harvard Westlake. That might be an offer. Thompson’s sprinting speed, dribbling ability and soccer IQ have led Mangano general manager Angela Hucles to call him a “generational talent.”

Christen Press/Sydney Leroux: Both players, teammates on the 2015 World Cup-winning team, will begin the year on the sidelines as they rehabilitate injuries that cut short their 2022 season. Press, 34, has had three surgeries on his right knee and is not expected to return anytime soon. Leroux, 32, injured an ankle shortly after being acquired from Orlando as a backup to Press, and is closer to a return though a date has yet to be determined. Angel City averaged just one goal last season, so having both women healthy will provide a boost to the team’s offense and depth.

DiDi Haracic: The Bosnian international missed just one regular season start last season, his first as a starter, and was rewarded with a contract extension that could keep him in LA through the 2025 season. He was also named the team’s most valuable player and supporters’ player of the year.

Savannah McCaskill: With Leroux sidelined at press time due to injury, McCaskill was the focal point of the offense, scoring a team-best seven goals and assisting on two others.

Jun Endo: Endo’s colorful work rate and unselfishness made him a fan favorite last season as he started all 22 NWSL games.

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